Summary: A look at the steps Naaman had to take to be healed
SEVEN STEPS DOWN
OCTOBER 13, 2013
TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C
FARM HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, HARRISBURG, AR
INTRO. Pat Summerall died earlier this year. We probably remember him the most for working in the broadcast booth with John Madden, calling NFL games on CBS and Fox. You may even remember that he played for the Razorbacks back in the day, before his own professional football career. One thing you may not remember about him with his conversion to Jesus Christ after years of alcohol abuse. He ended up at the Betty Ford Clinic, where the reading material was the Bible and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. He read a lot of the Bible, and conviction gripped his heart. At the age of 64, he was saved and then baptized. He said, “It was such a magnificent feeling. After the baptism I felt so clean. I knew what people were talking about when they talk about being born again. I had that feeling. I had a feeling of peace (www.cbn.com/entertainment/ books/Summerall_OnAir.aspx).”
Baptism is such a humbling experience, isn’t it? Many of us came remember that time and the feelings we had. It’s not too hard to relate to Naaman and his self baptisms there in the Jordan River at the instruction of Elisha. As we follow what happened to him there, seven humbling experiences come to mind that perhaps would relate to the seven times he went under in the Jordan.
I. THE FIRST HUMBLING - HIS TERRIBLE CONDITION (2 Kings 5:1). With all that Naaman had accomplished, with his standing in life, he had to own up to his terrible condition. I listened this week to Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ program on American Family Radio. She talked with a man who had to own up to his terrible condition in modern days. He had gotten an engineer job with a government contractor. The problem was that he lied on his employment application. It had asked something about had he ever committed any crimes. He put on there he had not, but he had. He had used illegal drugs for a time in his life when younger. Years later, he came under conviction from God about his terrible condition. Finally he could take it no longer. He got another copy of the job application and filled it out again, putting down the truth this time. He took the application to work the next day and twice walked down the hall to the office that did security checks and bailed out on turning it in. The third time, though, he persevered and turned it in. Since he opened up to his terrible condition, God was freed up to work in his life and touch and bless him. But he would never have gotten to that point, he never would have been able to move on and move up in life, if he had not been able to admit his terrible condition. Neither would Naaman had been able to move on if he had not been able to admit his terrible condition.
II. THE SECOND HUMBLING - LISTENING TO A SLAVE GIRL (2 Kings 5:2-3). When you are a person of importance and influence, those who serve you are often invisible to you. History records that in ancient Rome, as a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory parade, standing behind him was his slave, who had the responsibility of reminding the general that, although he was at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall, or more likely, be brought down. The servant would remind the general of this by whispering the phrase, “Remember that you will die” (www.wikipedia.org). History can also tell us that many of the Roman generals and emperors did not pay much attention to the warning! It’s easy to overlook the small people in your life, to ignore or walk over them. I read years ago, I can’t remember where, of how the students in a seminary class, training to be ministers and other Christian workers, were given a test one day. They were asked various things about the Bible, theology, church history and so on. Then came the last question on the test - “What is the name of the janitor who cleans this building?” You don’t know what janitor or slave girl God may send to you with a message from him, so we need to listen to them all, looking and hoping and praying and listening for the voice of God. Then, even though it humbles us, God give us the grace to follow as Naaman did.
III. HE WAS HUMBLED A THIRD TIME - LOOKING TO THE ENEMY FOR HELP (2 Kings 5:3-5). In the Bible, Naaman had to look to a very unexpected source for help. The people of Israel were enemies of the Arameans. This tribe came from the area that we know as Syria today. Mention of them is made here and there throughout the Old Testament, and they are never seen as being friends of the Jews. For an Aramean to look to a Jew for help would invite ridicule at the least and possible even suspicion, depending on the circumstances. Years ago, I read several science fiction novels by the same author about events a few hundred years in the future. There is a space academy on Earth, and the students there come from our planet, but also from outposts on Venus, Mars, the Moon, and perhaps other places in our solar system. A team of three cadets is put together, and they are the main characters of the stories. Tom is from Earth, and he is the head of the team. Astro is from Venus, and Roger is from Mars. Due to cultural and personality differences, Astro and Roger are always at each other’s throats, and Tom is about ready to give up on this every being a team; in fact, he is thinking about going to their commanding officer and requesting that the team be broken, which will certainly be seen as a failure on his part. But they are sent up into orbit on a training mission, and disaster strikes. A small meteorite passes through their spaceship, creating two holes a few inches wide in the walls of the spaceship. If quick action is not taken, they will lose their atmosphere and suffocate in space. Tom has to pilot the ship, and he orders the other two to do something. These two enemies, who can’t get along to save their lives, finally have to do just that. Even though it means looking to the other for help, relying on someone they can’t stand to save themselves, they act. They each go to one of the holes and cram their fist, covered with a cloth, into the hole and stay there, plugging the leaks, until the ship is landed. Naaman had to do the same kind of thing, and to get there, he had to swallow his pride and do what needed to be done, looking even to an enemy for help.